Cook Your Dream

When my food blog Cook Your Dream was born two years ago, I started using my boyfriend’s DSLR camera to take pictures of food I cooked. I had never shown much interest in photography before, but this time it was different. My boyfriend taught me the basics, and after just a month or two of taking food pictures, I realised that photography is what I love. I found my true passion and haven’t looked back since.

I’m a completely self-taught photographer. I enrolled for a photographic course at the University of the Arts in London, but the course was cancelled. After another failed attempt to attend a photography course, I knew I had to learn by myself. I was shooting every day, reading photography books and tutorials I found on the internet.

I still feel that I’m still at the beginning of my career. Photography is a tough business and it takes a very long time to start making a decent living in the industry. I have a fabulous partner who has provided enormous support for my career. The first year was difficult for me though. I spent more money on photo equipment than I earned. But I love my job and that’s what helped me to stay focused and determined.

Last year I got a small job for a Prague magazine. The client was very happy with my photos and they asked me to shoot more photos for another issue. This year I was shooting not only food but also product pictures for them. This collaboration brought my first experience with editorial photography. But I think the very first career break came this year. I was lucky to get some very interesting jobs and clients which helped me to move my career to another level. I’m very thankful for such opportunities, but I believe that my “big” career break is yet to come.

I like and enjoy all the shoots I do. I’m still in the process of learning, and every new shoot and client brings new experience. I really like those photo shoots where I can work with a friendly and skilful team. Such people make work a real pleasure and help to get the best result. A typical photo shoot usually starts early in the morning. The whole team arrives at the location, and I prepare my camera, computer and equipment as soon as I get there. Coffee or teas are made and in the meantime I go through the list of shots and decide with the client and food stylist the running order of the shoot. The food stylist then starts preparing the food and I set up the first shot using chosen props. The day can be very long especially when I shoot with artificial light and we are not forced to stop because the daylight is gone.

I’m very flexible person and I love travelling, so it wasn’t a problem to move to London. It’s a great place offering a wide range of opportunities in the food business. But I can feel like home anywhere in the world when my partner is there with me. I currently live in South East London with my boyfriend.

I love both cooking and baking. Food has always been very important in my family and I like using fresh and local ingredients. This year I started my own little kitchen garden where I grow tomatoes, onions, chilli peppers, rhubarb, strawberries and many herbs. Knowing the origin of my food is very important for me. I like shopping at farmers markets, and during the summer we often go to a pick-your-own farm. My favourite one is Hewitts Farm in Orpington. I also prefer small, friendly restaurants with seasonal menus. One of my recent favourites is a family-run Italian restaurant Trattoria Raffaele on our high street.

Trends change really quickly in food. However, I think the rustic, homely and relaxed style will stay for a while. People like to see pictures of food that make them feel it’s food they can cook at home: naturally lit photos and everyday props which you can find in every kitchen and grandma’s kitchen cabinet create the feeling of home cooked food.

There are obviously big names in the food photography industry, but I don’t have particular plans of which ones I would like to work with. I would like to photograph a cookbook which is something I haven’t tried yet, and, of course, I would like to work with interesting and inspiring people. I’m currently working on a new website with new photos and a completely different design. It’s quite a time consuming project.

I really admire the work of Ditte Isager, she shoots not only beautiful food but also interiors, lifestyle and travel. Her photos, and the way she plays with light and creates mood in her images, are work of pure genius and talent. I also really like the work of Mikkel Vang, Chris Court and Ellen Silverman.

Since starting out, I’ve found that this business requires a great deal of hard work. If you are just starting out I would advise you you to build a strong portfolio. Start with getting to know your camera well, playing with manual modes and practicing a lot. Try to shoot every day, look at pictures of other photographers and study their photos. Ask yourself questions: why do you like the particular photograph, where is the light coming from, what props did they use, what is the mood of the picture? Also try to assist other photographers. But most importantly believe in what you do and don’t give up!

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